Today in History: Musk Announces Plans to Make Humanity Multiplanetary
On September 28, 2019, Elon Musk made an astounding announcement about his plans to build a spaceship to travel to Mars and return to Earth.
Musk broadcasted his plans live from Texas at an unveiling of the SpaceX
Starship towering over him. Musk said that the ship was expected to take off in one to two months for the first time, reaching 65,000 feet before returning to Earth.
Musk stressed the importance of making reusable spacecraft to enable the future of space travel. Both the Starship and the large first-stage booster, known as Super Heavy, have been designed to be fully reusable. Musk believes this is the key to bringing his 'multiplanetary' mission to fruition, as it will allow the ship to fly back to Earth once it lands on Mars.
Musk's timeline didnt quite pan out, with the flights of the first two prototypes failing. Since then, there have been 267 launches, 229 landings, and 201 total re-flights, according to the SpaceX website. See the full list of launches and details about them here.
Recently, on April 20, 2023, SpaceX's Starship rocket was launched in a flight test in Texas. Three engines failed to start, along with several others, during the flight. The ship's autonomous flight termination system was activated, and nearly four minutes after liftoff, the rocket was destroyed.
The rocket's destruction was not surprising to SpaceX, as the launch was part of their development program, where many test flights often end in destruction. SpaceX officials were not discouraged, saying before the launch that the mission's success would be measured by how much they could learn from the launch.
Scientists view this event as a success, as the rocket was the most powerful rocket ever flown, breaking the previous record held by the Soviet Union for over half a century.
"You want to wake up in the morning and think the future is going to be great - and that's what being a spacefaring civilization is all about," said Musk. "It's about believing in the future and thinking that the future will be better than the past. And I can't think of anything more exciting than going out there and being among the stars."